Re: Please Re-read CAFAI

From: David Picon Alvarez (
Date: Thu Dec 15 2005 - 12:16:40 MST

First, I don't like saying this, because maybe you simply have a very
different and equally valid model of things, but I think you lack some of
the knowledge is often taken for granted on this list. You seem to have a
basically philosophical formation, without much atendance to information
theory and cognitive processes. Otherwise maybe I'm simply not getting what
you're onto.

From: "micah glasser" <>
I can't really say I disagree with much you've said here. I guess my point
was just that consciousness could turn out to be a necessary emergent
property of any sufficiently intelligent system.

Be very sceptical of "necessary emergent properties", they often are a sign
that the system under study is poorly understood. Emergence is all too often
a fancy word to signify "I don't know how the system is behaving and
something weird is going on". In terms of substance, let us leave it at
that, I don't think there's any substantive evidence for the thesis that no
intelligence without the kind of sense of self we humans have is possible.
That said, self-awareness is in many ways an illusion, much of it is
trickery to give unity to our experience and such.

You also said:
To answer your question all that I mean by consciousness is the phenomenal
awareness of qualia, and by self conscious the phenomenal awareness of a
self. (I think Hume refutes himself on this point). Descartes's cogito is
really the only place from which to begin a rational discussion in my
opinion but this is off topic. The next issue I wish to address is your

The existence, in a metaphysical sense, of qualia, is a hotly debated issue.
I'd dare say the majority of the people on this list believe that qualia are
a contingent manifestation of experience in some intelligent systems, and
entirely reducible to informatics or physics.

stipulation that evolution is an intelligent process. Evolution does not act
according to a goal system which means that it is neither intelligent nor
conscious. Of course if one believes in some sort of theism then one would
say that evolution was exactly an intelligent process. I remain agnostic on
this point because I don't believe the possibility can be ruled out. At any
rate nature has only produced one entity that we know of with General
Intelligence and that is man. Man is a conscious and self-aware being. So it
is not to much of a stretch to suppose that consciousness and intelligence
are related.

Evolution is not intelligent[1], it is an optimization process. An
optimization process can look a lot like intelligence, though. In fact,
Dawkins said something to the effect that biology is the study of those
natural machines that appear to have been designed, or something to that
effect. The point is that human intelligence is not the only possible
optimization process, and an optimization process can behave like a rational
agent, can maximizeexpected utility. There's no reason to believe that
optimization processes are in any manner self aware.
As to the "we're the only intelligent things around and we're aware so
probably intelligence implies awareness", one could equally say "we're the
only intelligent things around and we're DNA-based so intelligence requires
DNA". It is an insufficiently substantiated idea.

1: I'd argue that evolution doesn't sufficiently maximize expected utility
to be considered intelligent.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:54 MDT